Remember the Turtle

"Is that a fungus?" he asked.

This was on our first date.
I married Steve in 1993.

Our first wedding was in night court amidst prostitutes, thieves and drug dealers.
Just in case it didn't take, we did it again 6 months later at the church of
Punxsutawney Phil, the famous groundhog.

We met at a refugee camp for vietnamese refugees.
200 km from where I grew up and 8417 mi. from where he was from.
I was teaching and he was on a medical mission.
It sounds more Brangelina than it actually was because the altruism may have been a panacea for broken hearts.
Anyhow, refugee camp sounds better than having met at a bar.
The courtship began one night.
I awoke to the sound of guitar music and singing.
Rubbing the sleep from my eyes and drool from my chin
(it was 2 am, after all) I looked outside my window and saw Him.
Shocked and embarassed, I invited him in.
Although I already knew the answer, I asked him,
"what are you doing?"
"I am serenading" he said.
The man had researched the locals' customs and traditions at the library. Studying the chapter on love and courtship,
he neglected to notice that his reference material was from 1920.

Cut to our mildly tumultuous marriage four years later.
Dislocations, misinterpretations and cultural discord.
But on a road trip one day, as we were driving, we saw a huge turtle trying to make its way across the interstate highway.
I bemoaned its fate, certain it was going to die
(perhaps the turtle represented my tenuous state of mind)
Suddenly, he made a quick and illegal U-turn and stopped.
I was in awe.
Darting to where the reptile had not made much progress, he picked it up.
Risking injury from what turned out to be a snapping turtle's defense mechanism, he crossed the turtle safely to the other side.

For many years that turtle had purchasing powers when it came to domestic negotiations.
"I'm sorry I forgot our anniversary...remember the turtle?"
"I am turtle on call and will have to turtle miss the birth turtle of our first-born...turtle"
"I know I don't hug you enough...but how about that turtle?"

And so here we are today.
We are not the most normal (who is?)
Or typical (no, we are not swingers).
I am talking about the conventional man loves woman (and vice versa) type.
Maybe not a lot of romance, or deep-looks-into-each-other's-eyes, and what-are-you-thinking-of types of conversations...but there is love.

There is love in
the understanding,
the respect for individuality,
the acceptance of neurosis
and yes, in the seriously torturous tickle sessions (which i hate).
I know it.
Besides, when someone asks on a first date if you have a fungus,
doesn't that pretty much tell you what to expect?

btw, that first date was at the beach and he was referring to a flakey patch of skin under my right foot.
(happy anniversary steve, and i do remember the turtle)